There’s a lot of buzz around Ideal Client Avatars (ICAs) and finding them to maximize your marketing approach. In fact, you don’t need to go very far on the Internet to find a handful of similar ICA worksheets, online courses, or consultants who “specialize” in ICAs. Truthfully, ICAs are very important — get it wrong and nothing in your marketing mix will go as planned.
While online resources and experts can help guide you in the right direction, they rely a lot on imagining and dreaming up who you’d like to work with without answering the big question: Does this person actually exist? You can create a perfect client on paper, but if they don’t exist in the market, then you’re out of luck.
Great marketing is made up of three ingredients: the right message, the right audience, and the right timing. But, if your ICA doesn’t exist in the real world, your messaging and timing will never hit the mark and you’ll find yourself losing time and money for little to no return.
So, how can you dream up a realistic ICA that you can be certain your marketing will reach? The answer lies in real, hard market research. Don’t be afraid of that term; you don’t need to be a data scientist to get powerful marketing insights — you just need to be observant.
Here’s a guide to performing market research to determine your ICA and enhance your marketing approach accordingly.
Audit your inbox
The best place to start your market research is with your existing clients! If you have favorite clients who align closely with your ICA, take some time to revisit your communications and evaluate their needs. What did they want for their event? What were their biggest fears? How did they approach challenges on the way to achieving their dream event? All of these questions will push you closer to the mindset of your ideal client.
Additionally, keep an eye out for the FAQs that pop up in your email inbox. These questions are very telling about your market’s needs and you can use this information to inform your marketing strategies going forward.
Scour the internet
Beyond your inbox, the internet is expansive and holds a lot of the answers to your questions if you know where to look. Hop into Facebook groups and discussion forums that seem like a good fit for your ICA and look for real people who have shared their own dreams and challenges. What are their hopes for an event? How have they struggled with vendors in the past?
You can learn so much by simply being a fly on the wall and observing those who fit into your ICA profile. Keep an eye out for patterns that illuminate how you can better reach your market and load these insights into your ICA worksheet.
Develop relevant content
Once you have an understanding of what real potential clients are looking for, you’ll be in a much better place to create meaningful content that attracts them. For example, sharing photos that relay your hobbies and personal preferences through social media can create a sense of kinship, building trust and authority in you and your brand.
Likewise, you can use those FAQs and client preferences from your ICA worksheet to form the core content pillars on your blog and social media channels. Create SEO-optimized blog posts around what your ICA may be searching for to ensure that your website pops up at the top of their results.
Write your social media captions with an aim to help solve their problems to show that you’re an expert; bonus: your competitors will have a hard time copying you since you’ll be delivering unique and specific results to your ICA. Also, consider rewriting some of your web copy to identify the challenges brought up in your market research and offer solutions there.
The idea of marketing to your ICA is to position yourself as someone who is empathetic and trustworthy and the best way to do so is to curate and create content specifically targeted to the people you want to work with in the future. With the help of a bit of market research and some creativity, this is an easy and effective way to create a marketing strategy that will help you reach your big-picture goals.
Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that bring in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator with recent speaking engagements at NACE Experience, WIPA, and the ABC Conference.
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